On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
By Gretchen A. Peck
The spring real estate market is always the liveliest selling time of year. By virtue of the greening landscape and nice weather, springtime comes sellers and buyers alike. And this spring, so far, has been particularly fast-paced. Market data shows that homes are moving fast; they’re fetching multiple offers and often selling for over the asking price.
Welcome Home asked some local Realtors about the pace of real estate transactions right now, and if they have any suggestions for soon-to-be buyers who may be entering this competitive market.
Berkshire Hathaway Realtor Amy Jones said that buyers coming into the market right now need to be ready to see and quickly decide on a property.
“If buyers see something they like, they should be prepared to act quickly and expect to pay over asking,” Jones advised. “For soon-to-be buyers, get a pre-approval letter from a reputable lender.”
Coldwell Banker Realtor Vivian Senft, who’s affiliated with the Old Lyme and Old Saybrook brokerages, echoed the advice for buyers to have their lender lined up.
“The pace of sales is continuing for properties that are right-priced for what they are and where they are,” Senft said. “While most everything does sell, homes that are presented as ‘move in ready,’ or that have been professionally staged and elicit an emotional response of ‘yes, this is for me,’ continue to attain the highest prices.”
Beyond securing financing or documentation showing proof of funds for a cash sale, Senft said that buyers should have a conversation with their Realtors about what happens next: “Discuss with your Realtor the risks/rewards of bypassing inspections for the specific property you are interested in. Perhaps there are recent reports available; perhaps it was recently renovated and the major components are newer. Carefully review the Property Disclosures provided, and ask additional questions. … Make sure you have a Realtor you trust and who you can talk to. The only bad question is the one not asked.”
William Raveis Realtor Barrie Jill “BJ” Lee said the market conditions are influencing buyers to take a hard look at inspections again. “Houses are moving fast; prices are even higher than this past fall, but the house must be priced correctly to get multiple offers. Houses that are overpriced are sitting and being reduced. … As far as buyers go … unfortunately, most of the offers that are being accepted are ‘as is,’ with inspections ‘for your knowledge’ or no inspection at all. That’s a tough way to buy,” she said.
“We still have a shortage of homes for sale. This has not adjusted for several years now, and the spike in interest rates didn’t help improve inventory,” according to Realtor Renee McCammon, a real estate sales consultant with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.
“Sellers are not interested in giving up their very low interest rates for something much higher at this point, so that has only tightened the market,” she added.
Being financially prepared to buy a home is the most important thing you can do to prepare, McCammon suggested.
“First and foremost, you need to be pre-approved to even start looking,” she said. “You need to know your budget, the type of loan you’re getting, and even better, get pre-qualified—meaning, you’ve submitted all the paperwork and information the mortgage officer needs to approve you for a home loan.
“This will make your offer stronger, and you’ll just be pending the home appraisal after going ‘under contract.’ Another thing that buyers really need to know and understand going into this market is that there are no deals to be had right now,” she continued. “This is a challenging fact for a lot of people, especially if you haven’t bought a home in a long time. Paying list price or even over for a home can be very hard for people, but it’s the market we’re in and the reality of the current situation.”
Budget is also an early consideration, McCammon said.
“Really know your budget. Know how much cash you have at hand and talk to your agent about strategies to stand out when writing your offer,” she suggested. “Anything small or large you can do to strengthen your offer in this market is imperative. You will be one of many offers, so you need to discuss this with your agent.”